How do 'intelligent' people spend time doing differently? What factors gives them an 'intelligence' lead?
Shared by DesignForHappiness · 27d ago · 5 comments

This is perhaps a little different to the usual startup topic posted on here. However I am rather curious as to people's thoughts on the matter on what do 'intelligent' people spend time on doing and on what factors do they have that give them an 'intelligent' lead over their peers?

Intelligence can be rather epistemological, so for the sake of discussion, let's define intelligence as one's ability to process information, understand highly complex information and use such information for situational applications.

As one example of intelligence and why I think this question is particularly relevant in the Frontier community, is say some of the Pioneer winners here or Pioneer advisors like Laura Deming have been able to make significant progress in their academics/growing their knowledge and achieving outcomes they have been pining for. There may or may not be any correlation between academic success and life/career/arbitrary goal success, however I am leaning towards the hypothesis that significant academic progress or learning ability is a signal of one's advantageous ability to apply intelligence to more likely succeed in achieving one's goal.

Based on this hypothesis and a fairly high number of more 'younger' successful Pioneer winners, awesome 21 year old PhD holders, Thiel fellows etc... what do you think sets these outliers relative to people of their same age apart?

If you have an answer, would also be keen to find out about what informs your opinion on your answer. Thanks! · 26d ago

Hi Daniel my friend. Love your stuff.

Here's a possible lever for a meaningful subset.


Have you seen any of the series "Inside Bill's Brain?"

I saw perhaps 15 minutes of one episode Pre Covid :D In that time I learned two things that I believe inform my opinion that family can be a key lever.

1. Bill's mother was an amazing women that kept him in check while giving him the freedom to exercise his unique aptitude for reading and math

2. He won a statewide math competition, beating out students several years ahead of him

I'd say that his intellect, which was of course exceptional, could have easily led to a very different outcome were it not for the love and support of his entire family, particularly his mother.


Elon Musk's relationship with his family, again particularly his mother, may be yet another proof point. There was a story years ago (this may not be accurate) that I believe said his mother moved from their home country to Canada where he, as a teenager, was going to college.


Dmitri Mendeleev, the father of the periodical table of the elements.

After his father died his mother drove him, by horse, to St. Petersburg. The trip killed her. But in addition to allowing him to realize his potential academically, saved millions of millions of other lives by accelerating advancements in science.

Just a thought. Hope it helps inspire your research in someway.

PatrickW · 24d ago

Most of my thought process comes from observations in my life and my surroundings. I think what sets successful people apart is a passion for the topic at hand. Nobody will do something they don't want to do for an extended period of time. Especially to a point of becoming an expert.

For example, I can go 12 hours straight during a severe weather outbreak, covering the impacts and its movement across a state or region without breaking a sweat. However, I sit down and attempt vector calculus, I barely last 1 hour before I get frustrated (I can't wait until it is done). Given this, I won't be very intelligent when it comes to math in the future, I will probably forget most of it by the end of the class. However, I plan on becoming one of the leading experts in communicating weather information and maybe even science in the country because I am passionate about that topic.

Obtaining a PhD is no simple task. It is long, grueling, and exhausting. Same goes for becoming the star quarterback reaching the superbowl. Therefore someone will only get through if they have a passion for the topic they are studying.

So to wrap up the answer, the number of PhDs, the number of superbowl rings, and even the number of people someone has slept with is just a byproduct of someone's passion for that subject.

davidcrombie · 26d ago

Zig Ziglar...Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.
Just adding to the conversation.
Be careful to separate the knowledgable from the successful.

Continually focused on self progression/advancement vs things like socialization, sex, showing off/fronting etc while.. shall we say less intellectually gifted people have nothing better to do but pop out more kids and thus diminishing even further the time that they have for self improvement.

Theres a misconception that we're "just" gaming or gaming events startup that mainly comes from others' pre-assumptions when they hear gaming whereas it's in the name, Balance. Implying that really we're for people who also concerned with real life progress/achievement where gaming just happens to also be our fave hobby/lifestyle and yes, an intelligent one lol

ptmn · 26d ago

TL;DR Be yourself.

1. PG, YC's co-founder, has a good long essay about this.

2. For those interested in entrepreneurship, Steve Blank, a well-known entrepreneur & professor in SV, also has 2 minute's introduction:

3. For those interested in academic research, here is a distill knowledge shared by Yann Lecun - Alan Turing Laureate,